Many people wake up to an alarm on their phones. They roll over and open an app to get updates about world news, sports, or what their friends are doing. Throughout the day, they’ll cycle through a few other apps to see the most recent stories and posts. After work, they might reach for a tablet to find a dinner recipe. They could then stream a TV show after dinner and scroll through social media for a bit before going to sleep.
That’s just one scenario that shows how intertwined technology is with daily life. And as Digital World content proliferates, it’s no wonder children become just as glued to devices as adults. Naturally, it’s a growing concern for parents. The question isn’t whether kids will spend time on screens; it’s how to prepare them to use the time wisely. Here are a few tips to help set your child up for success.
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1. Start Small by Introducing Kid-Friendly Devices
Knowing that technology is here for the long haul, it’s smart to start your kid with a device or two of their own. When they’re young, maybe it’s a tablet — with parental controls installed — they can use for some time each day or when traveling. As they grow older, perhaps it’s a smart watch for kids that lets them track their activity and communicate with friends and family.
This gradual approach gets kids used to technology and can make them more comfortable with the digital world. It can also teach them skills like managing their screen time. As tech’s influence on their lives increases, these gentle introductions will pay dividends.
There’s also the matter of responsibility to consider as your child gets older. Giving them their own device allows room for a conversation about taking care of something delicate and relatively pricey. They’ll need to charge their device and keep track of it when on the go. These skills are a fantastic introduction to technology as well as the growing responsibilities they’ll have in the future.
2. Discuss Health and Safety
Of course, it’s important to chat about health and safety when it comes to digital life. With access to so much content and a world of strangers online, children can find themselves in potentially dangerous situations. Therefore, having regular conversations about online safety is key.
To keep your child safe, instruct them on which conversation topics to avoid when conversing with a stranger. Explain how they may not know with complete certainty who they’re talking to in a Digital World space. Even if someone says they’re a certain age, that may not be true. Emphasize the importance of never sharing personal information like their full name, address, or other identifying details.
Covering the physical implications of being online too regularly is also vital. An active, balanced lifestyle will set kids up for a healthier life, and too much time online can hinder that. Encourage your child to spend time offline playing outside, participating in a sport, or engaging in a creative hobby. This helps them grow outside of a screen and develop habits that build their mind and body.
Learning to use and enjoy technology while still maintaining a life outside of a screen is invaluable. As they grow up, your child will want to keep up with their friends online. While that’s a normal and expected desire, creating healthy tech use habits early on is extremely beneficial. They’ll end up in a better place because of it.
3. Set Boundaries
If it were up to them, many kids would probably spend all day gaming or watching videos online. While chilling online is OK every once in a while, it’s important to lay down some rules. Let your child know what they can do on the internet and be specific. Detail sites they’re allowed to visit and what content they can consume. Equally important, go over what sites and what content are off limits, too.
When setting boundaries, it’s essential to think about the ways kids need technology. For instance, if their schoolwork is online, they’ll have to access a device to get homework done. Also, consider how they may want to use technology. Watching funny videos, researching their favorite topic, or streaming a show or movie may fall into that category.
From there, it’s critical to establish parameters to guide them. If your child has their own tablet, computer, or phone, implement parental controls to limit use and screen them from inappropriate content. You can also take advantage of screen-time tracking on some devices to understand how much they’re using each one.
Enforcing time limits is another way to instill healthy tech habits. Specify a set number of minutes per day or hours per week your child can be on each platform. Then review how they used their time and make adjustments as needed. These parameters aren’t about nitpicking every last second your kiddo is on their device. Instead, it’s about guiding them to find a balance that ensures their life doesn’t revolve solely around screens.
Take It One Day at a Time
The world is a much different place because of Digital World technology. This development has been positive in some ways and negative in others, but it’s the world we live in. Finding ways to help your kids navigate it will ease stress and provide confidence that they’re safe and prepared.
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